The city of Fruita will snuff out smoking in its public parks and open spaces, though councilors took a slow-burn route to reach that decision.
The Fruita City Council voted 5-1 during their public meeting Tuesday night to ban smoking of any substance — which includes using vaporizers or electronic cigarettes — in any city-owned park, recreational facility or open space.
While several councilors said they were in support of the ban for myriad reasons, they also acknowledged discomfort with taking away a person's right to smoke in public.
An ordinance to ban smoking in Fruita's public spaces surfaced in 2010, but it narrowly failed by a 4-3 vote at the time.
The prospect of issuing a public smoking ban surfaced again earlier this year when members of Fruita's Parks and Recreation Advisory Board said they were in support of a smoking ban because it would send a positive message to youth.
Additionally, about 80 neighbors in the Kings View Estates subdivision, signed a petition calling for a smoking ban in the nearby Snooks Bottom Open Space after the area was home to several brush fires in the spring and summer.
Some councilors said Tuesday night they agreed a smoking ban could discourage youth under age 18 from smoking and vaping and it would protect people from the effects of secondhand smoke.
Councilor Lori Buck, who said she was "97 percent" in favor of the ban, cast the sole dissenting vote, because a smoking ban infringes on a person's rights and it doesn't get to the heart of the real problem of keeping youth from smoking.
"If (youth smoking) is such an epidemic, why are we not hammering this more?" she said. "I don't want government taking away any more privileges."
Councilor Amanda Ewing said the original intent of parks were created for the enjoyment of all and "to have those those spots promote healthy lifestyles."
"I think that outweighs someone's ability to smoke in a park," she said, in support of a ban.
Izzy Brophy, a 10th grade student at Fruita Monument High School, pleaded with councilors to institute a smoking ban in city parks because she said fellow students seek out the areas because knowing they can smoke or vape there "without consequences."
"Overall the benefits of an ordinance outweighs the consequences," she said.
Former Fruita Councilor Bruce Bonar believed the ordinance was too broad. Bonar voted against enacting a smoking ban while he served on the board eight years ago.
"I am concerned with the global scope of this," he said. "You have the ability to ban this on a case-by-case basis."
Bonar used the example that the ordinance would make someone a law breaker for smoking while walking their dog at 5 a.m. at Reed Park, even though no one else is around or affected by the smoke.
City employees who work in the Civic Center at Civic Center Park also will have to leave the park, at least heading to the sidewalk, for a smoke break.
Fruita expects to spend less than $1,000 from its parks and operations fund to place signage at the established areas informing residents about the smoke-free ordinance.